ORLANDO, Fla. (March 7, 2016) – The reigning Baseball America College Player of the Year is eyeing yet another prestigious award after his magnificent 2015 campaign at the University of Arkansas. The No. 7 overall pick by the Boston Red Sox in the MLB Draft, Andrew Benintendi (Madeira, Ohio) is the lone college baseball player among the top 17 semifinalists vying for the prestigious AAU James E. Sullivan Award, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) announced today.
Benintendi tore through the Southeastern Conference (SEC) last season and led the league in seemingly every offensive category. The 21-year-old outfielder led the SEC in batting average (.380), home runs (19), on-base percentage (.489), slugging percentage (.715) and walks (47). He was named the SEC Player of the Year and, for his incredible efforts during the season, was honored with the Dick Howser Trophy and the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award.
Benintendi could become just the second baseball player (Jim Abbott, 1987) in history to claim the award.
“The AAU James E. Sullivan Award is a one-of-a-kind honor for all of our semi-finalists,” said Melissa Willis, AAU Sullivan Award National Chair. “It is remarkably unique in that it allows us the opportunity to recognize the most elite amateur athletes across every sport imaginable.”
The AAU Sullivan Award has been presented annually since 1930 to the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. Representatives from the AAU created the Sullivan Award with the intent to recognize amateur contributions and achievements from non-professional athletes across the country.
World renowned golfer Robert “Bobby” Jones received the inaugural award in 1930 and swimmer Anne Curtis became the first female to accept the award in 1944. Other notable athletes to win the award include famed Olympians Mark Spitz (1971), Carl Lewis (1981), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1986) and Michael Phelps (2003). Former UCLA basketball star Bill Walton (1973) and University of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning (1997) have also earned the prestigious honor.
Joining Benintendi as a semi-finalist for the 86th AAU Sullivan Award is Derrick Henry (Alabama football), Deshaun Watson (Clemson football), Christian McCaffrey (Stanford football), Keenan Reynolds (Navy football), Ben Simmons (LSU basketball), Nirra Fields (UCLA basketball), Kelsey Minato (Army basketball), Breanna Stewart (UCONN basketball), Mikaela Foecke (Nebraska volleyball), Ashleigh Johnson (USA Water Polo), Jordan Burroughs (USA Wrestling), Adeline Gray (USA Wrestling), Jamie Greubel Poser (USA Bobsled), Jordan Wilimovsky (USA Swimming), Brittany Bowe (USA Speedskating) and Simone Biles (USA Gymnastics).
"We are truly excited about this year's class of semi-finalists for the AAU James E. Sullivan Award," said Dr. Roger Goudy, President/CEO of the AAU. "Each one of them embodies everything this award aims to celebrate – athletic achievement, leadership, citizenship, character and sportsmanship – both on and off the field."
Voting is open to the public at www.aausullivan.org. Semi-finalist voting opens today and will close on March 14. Finalists for the 86th AAU Sullivan Award will be named on March 17.